When we talk about competitive modes in Neverwinter it’s mostly about PVP. It makes sense, because the most challenging and enticing combats in any MMORPG often are player vs players encounters. And of course nothing let’s those e-peens grow more than any sort of official ranking, league, or tourneys. That doesn’t exclusively apply to PVP though. PVE players need challenge as well, and something to strive for. It’s often overlooked that “speedruns” or “world firsts” are actually a major incentive for players to participate in endgame activities. It’s why sites like WoWProgress or speedrun.com exist.
That’s why I’d like to talk about some ways to bring challenge and leaderboards to PVE today. I’m not aiming for something in the scale of “Mythic Dungeon Invitational” or something. We won’t see that in Neverwinter ever. The game is not big enough and who is going to host it anyway if the Community Manager barely has time for anything?So yeah, let’s cross it off the list. But I do believe you might be able to create something leaderboard-ish for PVE that might at least add some extra spice to daily runs.
Speedruns as Measuring Stick for PVE Performance
Let’s start by setting some goals for our systems. What I want to achieve is add significance to runs on top of simply completing them. Neverwinter is no game that has a true PVE race. Most dungeons are instantly completed on preview already and farmed on live before too long. The last dungeons that players actually struggled with and offered accomplishment for simply beating the last boss probably was Cragmire Crypts in Elemental Evil (Mod 6). You could maybe include Fangbreaker Island (Mod 10) and Svardborg (Mod 10.5) as well, but that’s about it.
Which is why speedruns basically became the only way for players to compare PVE performance. Since I don’t think that the dungeon designs will drastically change in the near future, this is where I’d like to get something going. The approach is pretty simply actually: Give players a toplist of the fastest runs for specific content. It’s not fancy, but might lead to players trying to beat the current top times. It would be a fairly simple way of creating challenge without having to build an event, even rewards, around it.
Adding More Options, Challenges, and Seasons
You can then basically go from there and offer more sort and search options. Like listing runs that consisted of a certain class, or player, or guild. You could also offer averages for classes, dungeons, or even yourself. Aren’t you interested in your average run times through TONG and how they developed over time? Are your runs usually slower than the global average? It’s certainly data I would appreciate! You would also be able to compare your times and averages to other players.
With a proper tracking and UI system in place, you could even take it a step further and think about seasons or challenges. How about all-tank runs in May, TONG with ranged classes in June, and completing Fangbreaker Island with the lowest possible combined item levels in July? This would be kinda cool. You could also just add seasons and reset the regular leaderboard regularly. Hand out some minor rewards like mount or fashion skins and there you go. My impression is that the community would be thankful for anything in regards to challenge and competitiveness. So you wouldn’t even have to get too fancy in terms of incentives.
There Is Some Upkeep Cost
That’s why I think you could do a lot with tracking dungeon completion times and providing players with the data. Unfortunately you can’t just introduce such a system without proper support and maintenance. Given how few resources Cryptic has, this is exactly where it might get complicated. Usually you shouldn’t run into much trouble with such a PVE leaderboard, but there will be situations where you would need to react to certain exploits or whatever. Let’s say suddenly a lot of 5-minute completions of TONG pop up on the leaderboard and it’s evident this couldn’t have been done legitimately. In terms of the ranking you would have to decide whether or not to take “bugged” runs out of the system. Since we know how slow the devs usually are to react to similar issues, players might just be left with a leaderboard that is none because it contains faulty data.
The other problem as always is elitism. If you have run-time data, then you probably have groups that lfg for players with certain top/average run times. I don’t think such a system would be particularly worse than requesting item levels, but obviously it’s something to include in the thought process. For that reason I’m hesitant to present others with you average times (say through the queue group UI). It would just cause too much trouble especially since averages could be very circumstantial. Players in your party could disconnect and then suddenly your averages go down and whatnot. Drama galore!
Overall though, I still do like the idea of some PVE leaderboards based on dungeon run times. It would be a basic way of providing players with a challenge on their everyday runs and give them some cool data to play around with.
What’s your opinion on the topic? Would you like to have run times in some way, shape, or form? Share your thoughts on our social channels, in the comments below, or the corresponding thread on our message board!
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